Mises Daily Articles
The Intellectual Revolution Is in Process
In 2009, Mises.org made some remarkable leaps into the future, not only with traffic levels, but also with a new model of publishing and distribution. We made the decision to give away everything that possibly could be given away, from code to text to the right to reprint — as far and as widely as possible.
It was an intellectual leap, one that thrilled everyone who works here because it is consistent with everything the Mises Institute was founded to do. Whether to go this direction is a decision pressed on everyone in the digital age.
Here is our thinking.
Ludwig von Mises's view is that ideas are a free good, not subject to economic constraints. They are infinitely reproducible.
Within the world of ideas, we find the recipe for freedom and prosperity.
With intellectual entrepreneurship and forward thinking, the future can be brighter than the present.
If you put these insights together, we have a plan for going forward: the radical step of universal distribution. The entire world benefits, not only now, but also in future generations. What we do today lasts as long as there are living and breathing people on this earth. We must seize on every technology to leverage truth now and forever.
We have done this, much to the astonishment of many. But as Mises says,
progress of any kind is always at variance with the old and established ideas and therefore with the codes inspired by them. Every step of progress is a change involving heavy risks.
Now, many institutions who might consider this leap believe that it would mean institutional death. Surely the only way to stay afloat is to artificially protect and guard content, restraining it, withholding it, and letting it out in dribs and drabs pending payment.
That is not the Misesian way. "Freedom is indivisible," Mises wrote. "As soon as one starts to restrict it, one enters upon a decline on which it is difficult to stop."
We took that step and the implications are enormous: Mises.org is now immortal.
What has been the result? Vast new traffic to Mises.org (one million visits per month) and ever more support for our work from members, donors, students, faculty, business professionals, clergy, journalists, and, yes, buyers in our store. In other words, we are making progress in exactly the way that Mises might have expected.
This is a dream come true for all of us. I was a student of Murray Rothbard, and I know that this was his dream too. We are working hard to make sure that all his works achieve their potential audience. In fact, for the whole of the Austrian tradition — all those economists and thinkers dating back in time, all the defenders of liberty from the earliest ages — this is an ideal. It means the universalization of access to the ideas of liberty.
Based on what we have been forging over the last months, I can promise you that this is just the beginning. We have some startling projects on the way, to be unveiled week by week in the coming year. We are pushing in every way, using every tool we have available and implementing the newest ones as they come along.
If you are a regular Mises.org user, you know that we tolerate breakages, but there is a theory at work here too: creation always implies some destruction. We would rather give you progress than perfection in stagnation. This is how freedom works, and it is how Mises.org works.
Mises.org also works through inspiration, and it is you, the reader and user, who provides that. We love the traffic, the emails, the praise, and even the complaints. We know that you depend on what we are doing, and, frankly, we could not do it without you. We need readers. We need those who forward links and set up blogs and forums to draw ever wider attention to the treasures here. We need volunteers. We need members, donors, and supporters in all walks of life. We need more of all these. We are a 501(c)(3) so your contributions are tax deductible.
Believe it or not, Mises.org is not all we do. We have conferences all over the country. We run teaching programs for students and academic symposia for scholars. The Mises Institute publishes a huge library of books and journals. Hundreds of books from the whole of the Austrian and libertarian tradition have been rescued and made a living part of global intellectual culture. We provide support for special projects and host scholars in-house all year.
Thank you from all of us at the Mises Institute. Thank you for helping us and inspiring us. We are also grateful for all those who have decided to become active members of the Mises Institute. If you are not one, would you consider doing that now?
In addition, of course, we are also deeply grateful for benefactors who give more, from $100 to $1 million. Servers and services to support this level of outreach are not cheap.
What do you get in return? We pledge to continue the development and to take this philosophy of freedom as far as it can go. We pledge to continue to uphold these ideals and to do our very best to achieve what Mises set out to do.
We live in extremely dangerous times. The enemies of liberty are on the march, but they do not go unchallenged. More than that, the path of liberty is an inspiration, something to fight for, something to dedicate one's life to. We have the theory and the praxis, and together they make a beautiful result.